tv Face the Nation CBS May 30, 2010 10:30am-11:00am EDT
>> today on face the nation, top-kill fails. the oil is still gushing into the gulf. now what? the latest effort by bp to stem the flow of oil did not work. what's next? we'll ask bob dudley, bp's managing director. does the obama administration need to do more? we'll ask white house environmental advisor carol browner and talk with congressman ed markey, democrat of massachusetts, who says bp has been dishonest about the amount of oil leaking into the gulf. then we'll get an update on the investigation into the disaster from cbs news investigative correspondent sheryl attkisson. first, can bp stop the oil on "face the nation." ? captioning sponsored by cbs
"face the nation" with cbs news chief washington correspondent bob schieffer. now from washington substituting for bob schieffer cbs news political analyst john dickerson. >> welcome to face the nation. bob dudley who is the managing director of bp is with us this morning from houston. welcome, mr. dudley. i want to go right to the top kill. it failed. now the next effort is to put a containment dome over this. when will you know if that next effort of containment has worked? >> well, the equipment has already been engineered and fabricated and placed on the sea bed near the well in top kill. that op operation has already begun. because this is being done at 5,000 feet with robots we're going on take our time, do it extremely carefully. by the end of the week, we should have this in place. >> the president has said this is a very risky attempt. this containment. others in the administration keep talking about the risk. what is the risk?
could this get even worse from this effort? >> well, everything, john, is at risk at 5,000 feet because there's no humans down there. we rely on the technology to do this. the risk here though i think is less. there's more probability of success with this than the top- kill which was highly complex, injecting of heavy fluids through a system that we built down there. it actually functioned the way we wanted it to. we were just not able to overcome the flow from the well. this operation will involve taking a very clean cut with a diamond saw by the robots to be able to create a connection over this. with this, we think we can contain the majority of the oil and gas. >> is there disagreement with the administration officials who talk about the risk associated with this? you seem to be suggesting that this is quite a bit easier. >> no, well there's of course risk with this. we sat down yesterday with officials from the government. energy secretary salazar,
secretary chu. we went through the program. they've been deeply involved in this not just yesterday but this has always been the option that we would move to if the top kill didn't work. again, we're operating at the frontiers of human endeavor at 5,000 feet. there is risk with it. there's no question. >> in this next attempt, the idea is to minimize the flow of oil. but minimize is different than shut the whole thing off. are we going to be spending the summer watching oil come out of this... coming out of the ground here? >> well, if this containment dome works as we think, it's not a completely pressurized dome. there may be some leakage out of it. but the majority of the fluids we believe we'll take to the surface to be able to collect there. it will never have contact with the ocean. >> how much could leak out though? >> we don't know. i will comment though that even if 10% of the fluid that leaks out because of the amount of gas it will look like a lot. we will show this on television all the time, of
course. success would be full containment. over the weeks ahead, we're moving fast to put this on. we've got some other ideas to further refine it to improve the amount of production from it. >> everybody talks about the relief wells at the end being the real back stop to closing this down. this might happen in august. what if those fail? how do we know those are going to work? >> well, there's no guarantee those will fail. this is very known technology now. you can go drill down 18,000 feet, hit the other well bore which is only about a foot and then immediately flood the well and the formation with heavy fluids. we have a second one drilling as well. this is technology that is much more certain. there's always uncertainty drilling these wells. things can happen as you move down. that's why we have two of them. >> there's been talk about bringing super tankers in to help with the clean-up effort. is is that something that bp is considering? >> we have looked at that.
we have looked at that. it's an interesting, interesting idea. those have been used in the arabian sea in the gulf over there for spills. what we're finding with this oil, it's light. relatively volatile. with the use of dispersants, it tends to string out a number of miles long but very narrow. as we look at this, it's not the same concept to be able to work. our spill responses at the surface now have been very, very effective. >> let me ask you a final question, mr. dudley. the president has said several times in his press conference that bp misled the white house about the amount of oil coming out. he said your interests are not in line with the american people. how can the american people trust what you or any other executive from bp is saying. >> the estimates from the well rates have never been bp estimates. they've been through the unified command center. the best way to estimate those early rates were from satellite picture. >> mr. dudley, i'm sorry to interrupt but in the beginning
when some of these larger estimates were coming out you and others were saying they were alarmists as if you had certainty from your own estimates. i'm confused. >> some of those larger estimates of 70,000 to 100,000 barrel a day are alarmist. we're not seeing anything like that. >> that suggests a degree of certainty. >> excuse me. >> that suggests a degree of certainty about exactly what is coming out from you which seems different from saying they were never our estimates. >> the current estimates by the government are between 12 and 19,000 barrels a day. the precision on these estimates has always been low. we have designed the spill response for much much higher rates. the alarmist figures of 70,000 to 100,000 barrels a day were actually damaging the tourism industry. >> unfortunately we're going to have to leave it there. we appreciate you coming on to talk with us this morning. carol browner is the top white house advisor on energy and climate change.
welcome this morning, i want to ask you about those initial estimates which were important because you need to know how much oil is is coming out because of the clean-up. mr. dudley blames the government for those initial estimates. your response. >> it's important to understand that bp has a financial interest in what those flow rates are. they will ultimately pay a fine based on those rates. that's why we brought in an independent team. we did not include bp in the estimates that were made available this week. the 12,000 to 19,000. that team is going to continue to work. it is hard to do. they have to look at three factors. they have to look at the plume rate. the insertion and the surface modeling. >> i'm sorry to interrupt. did they lie? or were the government estimates at the beginning that were being relied on. >> the very, very first estimates came from bp. they had the footage of the plume. the government then did satellite imagery and we realized that there's those were not accurate. >> let me ask you about something else about this next effort. the president has talked about the risk associated with it. mr. dudley says it's less
risky than the top kill method that just failed. are they downplaying the risk here? >> i think what the american people need to know is that it is possible we will have oil leaking from this well until august when the relief wells will be finished. it's important for the american people to know that we required, we directed bp to drill a second relief well to ensure we had redundancy in what will be the permanent closure. >> how much oil? >> when they cut the riser, our experts are telling us it may be as much as 20% more oil. once.... >> than we have now. >> than we have now. that will be for a period of 4-7 days when they move the cap into stage. two caps have been pre-staged on the ocean floor. we want people, you know, all the information we have, we want to make available to the american people. they have a right to know. we're going to honor that. what our experts are say ing is when you cut the riser, the kink may be holding some of the oil in. we could see an increase. our experts are saying as much as 20%. once the cap is on, the question is how snug is that fit? if it's a snug fit, then there
could be very, very little oil. if they're not able to get as snug a fit, then there could be more. let me just... what we're doing is we're going to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. >> what is the worse. >> pat:. >> the worst is that we have oil leaking until august, until these relief wells are done. we will be prepared for the worst. >> what if the relief wells don't work. >> there's every reason to think that they will. we didn't trust just one. we ordered them to drill a second one. this is technology that has been used for decades. it's used around the world. so they have they are making progress. the first one is ahead of schedule. they have slated that could be concluded or finished in mid august its about 10 days ahead of schedule. doesn't mean it won't fall behind. it's ahead for the moment. >> we've seen the president mention several times instances in which bp wasn't being forth coming. now we have a disagreement between who indeed was measuring those first flows of oil. how do you work with somebody you don't trust? >> this is obviously a difficult situation. but it's important for people to understand that from the beginning the government has been in charge. we have been directing bp to
take important steps. we have a brain trust led by our secretary of energy, dr. chu who in fact it was that group of people yesterday who looked at the information we had gotten from top-kill and realized that it was too dangerous to continue to proceed to put pressure down into that well. that things could happen. that would make the situation worse. that's why we're moving on. >> the government told bp to stop. >> told them of our very, very grave concerns. >> and they listened. >> absolutely. >> let me ask you this question. the president said despite these differences of opinion about the initial estimate flow that he said, co-, that didn't change what our response was in the beginning. how can that be so? >> we always planned for the worst. from the beginning we assumed that this could be worse. we started mobilizing immediately. we met with the president the day the rig fell to look at the situation. he stayed engaged. we have to plan for the worst. we have planning and activating for the worst, working with the governors and with the parish president.
>> in testimony scientists have said those low estimates there wasn't enough of planning for the worst. those initial low estimates were a problem because we have the huge lakes of ocean under the surface no one can see. if we had an accurate number we would have known this oil is going somewhere. we have to look for it. the fact we didn't know that was a real big problem. >> they're continuing to study the plumes under the sea. we need to get better information about that. we have... but in the meantime as the oil comes to the surface i think it's important to understand what resources are out there. there are the burns which have been hugely successful. more than 80 burns where you corrale the oil, ignite and there are the skimers that have removed almost 11 billion, more than 11 billion barrels of oil and water. and then there's what you do as it starts to come ashore. >> we've been talking about worst caseson area owes. the president said the oil companies didn't have their act together when it came to worst case scenarios. that's one of the realizations
he made in this disaster. how soon did he make that realization? >> fairly early on we all came to realize that there were situations that could unfold that hadn't been adequately thought through. that's why we've suspended all drilling in the deep water. deep water drilling in the gulf of mexico. tas why there is a commission. that's why there will be investigations. we cannot resume these activities until we can assure the american people that they are safe. we don't know if this is a technological failure or a human failure. maybe both. once we understand that, we will have to ensure the american people that it can be done safely and if there is an accident it can be responded to rapidly. >> if the president was very quickly realizing that the oil companies had not been straight about the size of the disdisaster, why de cite as one of the pressures not pressing bp fast enough? if he had had this early realization.... >> we were pressing them whachlt the president said in his press conference is when we look back over the last 35-38 days we do realize there were
places where we could have moved more aggressively. one of them was asking for all the data which we needed to do these flows but it is important for people to understand bp has a vested financial interest in downplaying the size of this. we are on top of it. we have the best minds looking at it. we're not just looking at a video. we're looking at satellite imagery. we're looking at what's actually being brought up through the riser into the boat that was there. we will continue to monitor the situation. we want to know and the american people have a right to know how much oil is spilling. >> talking to people who have had to deal with other kinds of disasters, they say there's a moment when everybody has been following the play book that's in place. when somebody says, you know what? we need an entirely new play book. we need to think in an entirely new kind of way here. has that moment happened and so so when did it happen? >> i think it's been happening with each step. the first goal was obviously we always need the relief wells for the long-term solution. the first thing was could we get this contained quickly? that dam didn't work. the second was could you kill
the well so it wasn't leaking while the relief well was being drilled. now we've moved to the third. in each instance we have been pressing and analyzing and using the best minds at the brain trust to give us the best answers to keep adjust to go the reality. >> one question about adjust to go reality. dispersant was being used. there was argument about a specific toxic one. want to ask you about owl dispersants. can you assure us that the use of dispersants isn't saving the beaches but ruining the water. >> lisa jackson at the environmental protection agency is top of this. people should understand that there is a preset list of authorizeded dispersants. this was chosen from that. but we are using an amount of dispersant that has never been used before. jackson has flagged it for the american people. the administrator jackson has flagged this and directed bp to use less of this. >> still to be determined whether this amount is harmful in the end. >> it is being study. if we have reason to believe that even less should be used jackson will issue the
appropriate order. >> wonderful. carol browner, thanks so much. we'll be back in a minute. r, what are you really buying? a shiny coat of paint? a list of features? what about the strength of the steel? the integrity of its design... or how it responds... in extreme situations? the deeper you look, the more you see the real differences. and the more you understand what it means to own a mercedes-benz. the c-class. see your authorized mercedes-benz dealer for exceptional offers through mercedes-benz financial. ♪
>> joining us now is congressman ed markey who heads up one of the congressional committees investigating what went wrong in the gulf. welcome, congressman. i want to ask you about what you heard here about these initial estimates. you pressed bp to get these images we're now all quite familiar with out in the public. they delayed. you pressed them because it was important to see how much was coming out so that relief efforts could be targeted in the right way. did bp know about how much oil was coming out at the begin something. >> bp did. i asked bp to provide me with the documents that related to what they felt in the first week. of the size of this leak actually was. i have an internal confidential bp document which says that they believed in the first week that it was
1,...1,000 to 14,000 barrels per day. but what they said publicly was that it was 1,000 barrels per day. i think if everyone understood right from the bp get-go that bp felt it could have been upwards of 14,000 that that would have changed a lot of perceptions. bp was promising that they would be able to handle this spill in a regularly... regularly way without any problem. as the magnitude of the problem became clearer, as individual, independent scientists were able to do their own evaluation, once this film, once this video became public it was clear now that the government scientists have confirmed this that it's somewhere between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels per day. in other words confirming what bp knew in the first week that it was 1,000 to 14,000. >> that was a month ago at the beginning of this. more than a month ago. ms. browner mentioned that bp
has an ongoing financial interest in playing down this. in this operation. give me your assessment of their truthfulness, how straight they're being given their ongoing financial interests. >> bp has a stake in their own liability here. and that means... by that i mean that the fine which can be imposed upon them is dependent upon how many barrels per day is going out into the guff. if it's 1,000 barrels per day it's a relatively low fine but if it's 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 barrels per day, it could wind up billions of dollars in frins that the bp executives have to pay to the federal government. their focus was not completely on the liveability of the gulf. it was also on the liability of bp and as a result they had a stake in low balling the number right from the very beginning in terms of the amount of oil going out into the gulf.
>> so you think they lied. >> i think they were either lying or they were incompetent. but either way the consequences for the gulf of mexico are catastrophic. >> when you hear assessments about the top-kill procedure that failed, given your sense of their veracity, they said it was a 60 to 70% chance that this effort that has now failed might work. what was your thought about that? >> my thought right from the beginning talking to other scientists was that the likelihood of success was much lower. again this is all part of bp's boosterism which always leads to a certain sense of complacency for a certain period of time which leads to a continue yalgs of the disaster. they initial said the rig could not sink. they then said that they could clean it up at a magnitude of 250,000 barrels per day. 10 or 20 times what we're now seeing. and none of this has turned out to be accurate.
bp has been making it up as they go along the whole way. they have not been prepared. they do not know for sure what the result is going to be of anything which they are doing. >> obviously you don't have much faith in their new estimates about this next certain... effort? >> i have no confidence whatsoever in bp. i think they do not know what they were doing. they started off talking about golf balls going in as a junk shot. people thought they would be dependent on m.i.t.or cal-tech instead of the pga and golf balls. that was in the first couple of weeks. i don't think that people should really believe what bp is saying. in terms of the likelihood of anything that they're doing is going to turn out as they're predicting. >> let me get your sense then of an assessment. bp and the government seem to share the relief wells. the last measure that's going to shut this all off in august maybe. carol browner seemed to think
that was a pretty good chance that was going to work. that's your assessment of that the. >> my assessment is that bp only wanted to drill one relief well. but government, that is, the obama administration, insisted that bp also drill a second relief well. we cannot afford to have something go wrong with the relief well. we have to have a second one also being drilled simultaneously to make sure that by the time we reach august, we know that this catastrophe has come to an end. in terms of the leak. not in terms of the consequences. >> you're on board with the idea that by august this will be shut down. >> i think with the second relief well it doubles the likelihood that we will be successful. i feel fairly confident that they will be able to pull that off although to be honest there still is no absolute guarantee. >> the final question. speaker pelosi suggested the linlt cap on bp should be lifted or an oil company should be lifted. where are you on that
position? >> i do not believe that large energy companies should be able to escape having unlimited liability for the catastrophes which they create. that's something we're going to have to pass in congress as well as a new innovative energy agenda for wind, solar, all electric vehicles. we have to move to 21st century safety technologies as well if the oil industries want to deal in alternate deep waters we need safe technologies as well. >> with bp, was this criminal activity do you think? >> without question the word criminal should be used in terms of an environmental crime against our country that's what's going on in the gulf of mexico is going to qualify, yes. >> congressman ed markey, thank you so much. we'll be back with more on the oil spill in a moment. ♪ [ male announcer ] we call it the american renewal. because we believe in the strength of american businesses.
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oil spill since day one. what do you make of what you just heard? >> i do wonder if we're going to see a growing rift between this partnership with the administration, the obama administration, congress and bp because this is the first time i heard bp so strongly say, hey, the government's to blame for those bad figures. the government is saying back, of course, that bp is to blame for those bad oil flow estimates. >> and with the investigation ongoing, we've got reports. we've got hearings going on. what do you think is the biggest question that's going to be coming up? >> my biggest concern in covering all of this is getting accurate information. i still don't have a high degree of confidence we'll be able to rely on the information that we get either from bp or the government. briefly i just wanted to point to bp announcing top-kill failing. first on friday when technicians were saying it wasn't working. bp said it's still working. so far so good. even in announcing the failure the words they used at bp were despite successfully pumping a total of 30,000 bears of heavy
mud the operation did not overcome the flow of the well. they're sugar coating the facts. i think the government is relying very much on what bp has to say in its assessment of things. we'll have to see whether that changes. as a journalist and reporter i don't have a high degree of confidence that we can trust the information. >> what about in these investigations? bp has been cooperating or supplying information. have they been forth coming in terms of what they've been handing out to investigators. >> there's no way to know for sure. the investigators on capitol hill aren't sure. you don't know what they turned in and haven't turned over. part of the problem with the pollution ak that gives them a lot of control is you have in essence a company that could be a criminal defendant in charge of what could very well prove to be the crime scene. this is a strange situation. >> i want to ask you about the criminal activity. congressman marky suggested if there's ever an irns stance in which there has been environmental aid that there has been criminal activity here. do you see that way. >> i do know that seven
senators have written a letter asking the attorney general to open a criminal investigation. they're looking at the perspective from bp get ago permit to drill like this perhaps under false pretenses because they said, remember, they could take care of any scenario. this would not happen. so far the inquiry is wlooking into whether leading up to this they misled the government which may not have been doing its proper job in oversight but may have been misled by bp. >> do you think very quickly that this criminal push will happen quickly or it has to wait until this hole clean up is resolved. >> i think the government hoped it would go slowly. there will be pressure to open a criminal investigation and announce that sooner rather than later. >> thanks so much. we'll be right back. ♪ ♪ do u gonna be there? ♪ are u sure u gonna call back? ♪ ♪ when am calling up and all that? ♪ ♪ ♪ can't u hear i'm sick?